Despite being without their top wide receiver, All-Pro tight end, and both starting running backs, the Baltimore Ravens were able to go down to the ‘Big Easy’ and come away with a huge win. They beat New Orleans Saints 27-13 to officially close out Week 9 of the 2022 regular season thanks in large part to another dominant performance by their defense and punishing running game.
“We have to start with our O-line; they do a terrific job,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said in his postgame press conference.
Led by veteran running back Kenyan Drake and Jackson, the Ravens racked up 188 rushing yards on 40 carries as they bludgeoned the Saints’ vaunted defense into submission for four quarters.
“The human will can only take so much,” Drake said in his postgame press conference. “It’s just pounding down in and down out. Power here, power here, pull a guy here, whatever the case may be. You got to rotate those guys in because at the end of the day, we’re going to continue to be here and that’s what this team is all about. Continuing to wear teams down, grind them out four quarters of football and we’ll see who is victorious at the end of the day.”
He recorded 109 yards from scrimmage consisting of a team-leading and game-high 93 yards and two scores on the ground and he caught both of his targets for 16 yards. Drake had admired the Ravens’ rushing attack from afar before joining the team just before the start of the season and believes that this year’s team is just scratching the surface of what they could be.
“The sky is the limit, honestly. No matter how we start, it’s always how we finish, and I feel like that is the epitome of this team,” he said. “To be a part of this organization and see how they play hard-nosed football for all four quarters, at the end of the day, it’s about finishing the game. I feel like we tend to do that.”
With Rashod Bateman out for the season and Mark Andrews out of commission, Jackson spread the ball around evenly amongst his wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. He hit 10 different targets with no one pass catcher hauling in more than two receptions which is exactly how they wanted it to play out per their game plan.
“That’s what we’ve been practicing on, getting our guys the ball and letting them get as many yards as they can,” he said.
The Ravens have rattled off three straight victories heading into their timely and much-needed bye week and feel confident that they are on the right track on both sides of the ball. They will be one of the most dangerous teams down the stretch in the second of the season once they get some of their injured players back and make some minor tweaks and adjustments.
“I feel like it puts in a very good, comfortable position right now,” Jackson said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing, stay locked in, keep cleaning up the little details here and there. I feel like the sky’s the limit for us.”
Lamar Jackson Takes Blame For Missed Opportunities
With Bateman and Andrews out, the Ravens had several of their supplementary pass catchers step up, make plays, and consistently get open but they left a lot of plays on the field well as a result of penalties or Jackson just simply missing wide-open targets at times.
Lamar Jackson missed veteran possession receiver Demarcus Robinson on pair of plays. One would’ve been a long touchdown in the second quarter that was overthrown after he got open in the back of the end zone and the other came in the third quarter when Jackson was running to his right and threw behind a wide-open Robinson who might have scored from 14 yards out had he been hit in stride.
“Guys were getting open, our offensive line did a terrific job,” Jackson said. “I’m still mad about those two to ‘D-Rob’.”
He was visibly upset with himself after both plays but the fact that the Ravens’ offense is still rolling and racking up points like they are despite having plenty of room left to grow is exciting. It means that they still haven’t hit their peak and have plenty of room left to grow and become even more potent and efficient on that side of the ball in the passing attack specifically.
Before leaving the game and not returning with a minor hamstring issue, veteran speedster DeSean Jackson had a 23-yard catch nullified by an ineligible man downfield penalty. He finished with one catch on a pair of targets for 16 yards and nearly hauled in a 50-yard bomb on what looked like a disastrous broken play.
As the two Jacksons develop more chemistry, the offense will become even more dangerous with a viable and proven deep threat that opens up more space underneath for other pass catchers to get open and make plays.
Reserve Running Back Deserves More Carries
As impressive as Drake has been when given a chance to be the bell cow when both Dobbins and Edwards have been out at times over the last month and a half, so has Justice Hill when healthy. The fourth-year pro has looked like a completely different ball carrier since returning from a ruptured Achilles that cost him all of the 2021 season.
His vision and footwork are excellent and he gets upfield and explodes through creases with a great burst. The aspect of his game that has been the most impressive has been his ability to both avoid and run through contact with underrated power for a player of his size and stature.
While Drake is still the better pass-catching option of the two, Hill is an effective third-down back as well in pass protection and has made several devastating blocks and blitz pickups that have left defenders on their rear ends wondering what in the world just hit them.
In the open field, he uses he is much more decisive with his cuts that leave would-be tacklers grasping for air and is patient running behind his downfield blockers as he rips off chunk plays.
Hill has only run the ball 32 times for 190 yards but averages 5.9 carries. according to Pro Football Reference, he hasn’t had more than eight carries or seen more than 28 offensive snaps in a single game yet this season. He clearly is deserving of a larger role in the offense and should be utilized more often in the rotation, especially with the team’s top two players at the position, Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, banged up dealing with minor injuries.